Elementary School principal Dan Zylstra says while there are already some local options available, he thinks there would be an advantage in the school offering its own program. He says that with educational standards going up, educators need to be more proactive in getting kids learning at a younger age, “Early childhood education is becoming more and more important because kindergarten standards – they just aren’t what they used to be. They’re a lot more in-depth. Common Core has sort of made the kindergarten experience more academic than it used to be, and so it’s very important that kids come into kindergarten ready for kindergarten and I think a preschool helps to make that happen.”
Zylstra says they’re asking for feedback from parents and community members about whether they think the preschool program’s needed and if so, what form it should take, “When I look at the survey results so far, the majority of them are very positive – that they would be interested in the program and that they would want to send their kids here. Again, there’s a differing opinion about the structure – you know, the format, how many days, how long – but the overwhelming responses have been pretty positive.”
If West Central does start its own preschool, parents would most likely be asked to pay tuition to support the program. Zylstra says they don’t have an estimate yet, but the cost to parents should be comparable to what similar programs charge. He says they’re working to make sure it’s affordable, “Right now the state doesn’t provide any financial support directly support for preschool and early childhood education, but we’d like to make preschool a possibility maybe for those that might have trouble affording it if it’s all out of pocket, so we’re looking into grants and other funding sources to make it affordable for everybody who would want to come.”
The survey can be found here.